Friday, August 31, 2018

Prayer 2043: Inspired by John 10:7-17


In hope and faith, we pray to You, O Loving God:
Creator, Redeemer, Life-Giver;
we offer you our gratitude and praise.

Blessed Jesus, may we enter through you into abundant life,
given for others,
finding our meaning in love and kindness,
dedicating ourselves to healing and reconciliation.

Where there is anxiety,
let us remember that you are ever with us, Lord:
our Savior stands sentinel between us and all danger
as the good shepherd and lover of our souls.
Where there is suffering,
let us act to end it,
strengthened and empowered by you, O Christ.
Where there is joy,
let us share and support it,
and where there is peace,
let us nurture it and protect it,
as servants and disciples of the Prince of Peace.

Lead us, Holy Spirit, into integrity and compassion,
and fill us with the inner light of God,
that we may be a beacon and witness to all.
Trusting in your never-failing love and care,
we ask your protection, O God,
for those we love and remember before You.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Prayer 2041: Gratitude in the Storm


As rain blesses and waters the longing Earth,
so, Creator God, we long for You,
and offer our gratitude
for the abundant blessings You shower upon us.
For your lovingkindness and protecting hand, O Lord,
that has kept us safe through darkness and storm,
we thank You and sing out your praise!

Blessed Jesus, lead us to walk in paths of wisdom and justice,
that we embody your gospel of mercy this day.
In your compassion, forgive us our sins and waywardness,
that we may turn again to your guidance with joy.
Unite us as living witnesses to your grace,
working for the reconciliation of the world in love.
Make us gentle and humble of spirit,
that we may listen and learn from those we meet.

Spirit of the Living God,
sanctify and bless us this day,
that we may ourselves be a blessing.
Give your angels charge over all who call upon You, Lord,
especially those for whom we now pray.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Prayer, day 2040


Lord Jesus,
you open your arms to us on the cross
to embrace and redeem the entire world:
hear our prayer.
Bring us to repentance for our sins,
and determination to follow your Way of life
in every thing we do.
Bring us to love each other
as You loved both your disciples
and your enemies.
Bring us to so delight in your gospel
that we mold our lives around it.
Fill us to overflowing
with your love, wisdom, and compassion, Blessed Savior,
and make us worthy of your name.
Bless and keep all those who cry out to you,
especially those we now name.

Amen.
1305

Monday, August 27, 2018

Prayer, day 2039: a prayer of resistance and hope


Most Merciful God, bend near,
and place the balm of your spirit
upon this turbulent world we have made.
Let us hear again your call to live
as children of light, justice, healing, and peace. 

Lord, let us be children of light.

When we stumble blindly
in the storms of sin and destruction,
let us be filled with and reflect the light of your love. 

Let us be for laborers for justice.

Let us seek to not live by the sword,
but by the wisdom and grace of your Word. 

Let us be for agents of healing.

Let us seek reconciliation and repentance,
not retribution,
for one wound cannot be healed by another. 

Lord, let us be for peace.

Let us unclench the fists of our hearts,
renouncing all that separates us from each other. 

Lord, let our cry come to You from the depths

as we pray in your mercy.

Amen.

1263, 1713

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Wonder All Around: Sermon for Proper 16B



It all started with a memory and a pair of miracles.

The memory was the story of God providing manna in the wilderness, which was the first miracle. The second miracle was the one we heard five weeks ago, where Jesus took five barley loaves and two fish and turned them into a feast for over five thousand people.

The crowds that have been following Jesus around after he fed that multitude on the grassy shore saw what Jesus did, and immediately thought he was a second Moses. They started talking about manna in the wilderness with a wistfulness that only someone who hadn’t had to eat manna every single day for 40 years could manage. Manna was what God provided when the Israelites complained about their hunger during the Exodus from Egypt. And those crowds were hungry, no doubt about it.

They might have thought twice about eating it if they had acknowledged what it really is. In her book Bread of Angels, renowned Episcopal preacher Barbara Brown Taylor described what manna was in one of her sermons. Manna is believed to be basically dried bug spit,
… or something that rhymes with spit.


Mmm! Dinner!
See, these plant lice in the desert have to frantically eat a lot of sap from a certain kind of tree, and they then have to excrete the excess. Those secretions, dried in the hot desert air, form a flaky substance that to this day is gathered and baked into cakes called manna, which actually means, “What is it?”(1)



And I bet some of you are thinking, “I wish I didn’t know what it is, either.”

Sometimes, just like with hot dogs or Slim Jims or pork rinds—all things I grew up eating as a kid-- it’s just better not to know what’s in something, I guess. But, manna was better than nothing. So basically they ate something called “whatchamacallit” for forty long years in the desert.

Yet at the same time, that’s a long time to eat one thing and not grow to hate it. I was only in college for four years, not forty, but my manna was ramen noodles. Ramen noodles were cheap and easy—ten cents and some boiling water, and you keep body and soul together so you can buy $200 art history textbooks you may never open again! And so I ate ramen noodles a fraction of the time that the Israelites ate manna in the wilderness, but for years afterward I would shudder when I thought about it.

Not manna.

Through the beautiful amnesia of time I now can look back at those days fondly—kind of, like with childbirth. And generations later, those crowds following Jesus had heard the stories of their ancestors eating manna often enough that the idea had become wonderful. Manna was transformed from dried bug spit to something magical in their minds. So they have been pestering Jesus for manna for the entire sixth chapter of John.

But Jesus loves them too much to offer them dried bug spit. He offers them—and us-- something better. He offers us himself. He asks us to believe, and through that belief to invite Jesus to abide within each of us. In doing so, we then abide in Jesus.

Yet because he is being honest, the complaints begin, which turns into anger and offense. “Whoa, now Jesus!” the crowds cry out. “All we want is manna—full bellies without thinking about it too much, so we can go on about our lives.” Again and again, Jesus offers himself to us. Yet too often we’d rather have bug spit.

For five weeks now we have been taking a detour into the Gospel of John and the teachings on Jesus as the bread of life. Maybe they thought Jesus was kidding. But now, in John’s gospel for this Sunday, even the disciples are confounded by Jesus’s sayings about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Some of them recoil in bewildered hurt, blinking their eyes as if emerging from a dream into bright sunlight.

For some of them, the dream was that Jesus would be Moses getting God to conjure up manna. For others of them, the dream was that Jesus would be a warrior king like David or Solomon, perhaps; and walking in the footsteps of his royal ancestor he would vanquish all the foes of the Jews and sit once again in splendor upon a throne.

Or the dream was that the Messiah would be a valiant rebel like the Maccabees, that he would swoop down upon the oppressors of Israel like an avenging fire. His glory would be the people’s glory. Some in the crowd now wonder if they haven’t been following a madman rather than a prophet, a healer, a miracle-worker. They asked for manna and Jesus gives them riddles about eating his own body. 

That’s what we’ve been puzzling over alongside that crowd for more than a month. We don’t get what we think we want, and so then we are blinded from seeing the good things we DO receive. 

God’s good gifts to us come in packages we often may not be ready for or be able to really appreciate, in ways both great and small. In every instant, life changes, and we can either see those changes as challenges or gifts. In the words of my people, as blessin’s, or lessons.

Jesus invites us to share in the real life of God, if only we can open our eyes and really see the signs of God’s love all around us, although it may not be what we though we wanted at the time.


For instance: all summer long, oh, it’s dry and hot, and who can stand it? But just like that, here’s a wonder! Suddenly from leaden skies rain materializes, determinedly tracing a straight path to the ground. Then the trees begin murmuring louder as the raindrops grow larger and more percussive on the leaves, and the hummingbirds dash for shelter under the leaves of the Rose of Sharon that my husband calls weeds, which are exactly the same size as their bodies. The bees tuck themselves inside the pink, white, and lavender blooms or under the broad leaves of hostas that bounce under the weight of fat raindrops. And everything waits. This will pass, but really, aren’t those leaden skies a blessing? And aren’t we dependent upon those birds and bees for our very life?

Just like that: your heart beats a steady rhythm in your chest, you breathe in and out thousands of times each day, air scented with the slightest tinge of wet grass and jasmine and crushed marigold and maybe even wet, adoring dog if you’re lucky. Just for a moment you KNOW the beating of that heart, the miracle that drives it steadily on, bringing you each precious moment working in tandem with each precious breath.

And just for a moment, instead of motoring through the mad scramble of your day, maybe as you sit at yet another interminable stoplight on Manchester Road, or are held like a hostage at yet another rotten meeting that could have been an email, or as you soothe a fretful toddler who has refused to fall asleep unless sweatily sprawled across your lap clutching your finger at 1 am, you feel the wonder of that heartbeat that has brought you to this moment and made it precious rather than something to be endured.

Suddenly everything shifts in your perception, what was unclear comes into focus, and you feel a spark within you catch and begin to grow into a hopeful flame that there is wonder all around us.

It was all good when Jesus was passing around the bread and sardines. But just like that, Jesus’s teachings HAVE proven too hard for some of his followers. They have not signed on for this. To drink blood and to eat flesh is unimaginable. They asked for bread, and Jesus seems to be giving them stones. Worse than stones, actually, they think. Jesus speaks matter-of-factly to them about bewildering mysteries when they were asking for another miraculous sign. “Moses,” they said, “laid out feasts in the wilderness. We want bread just like that.” They wanted manna, which they called the bread of angels, but Jesus instead gives them riddles. And so, many leave.

But a few remain—then and now. "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." The ones who leave and the ones who stay do not yet understand that, better than loaves and crumbs, Jesus is offering himself to them—and to us.

Too often, we fall into the silken trap that undergirds our modern world—the stubborn insistent voice that insists that each person is in control of his or her own destiny. Other people will get there first, and there won’t be enough to go around. We are driven by fear of scarcity, fear of the Other. We scramble after manna and ignore the feast Christ offers us.

Jesus, however, reveals a different standard for defining reality. Jesus comes into the world as part of God’s proclamation “God loves, therefore we are.” God freely sends God’s Son into the world as the Incarnate Word through love. There it is in John 3:16—“ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus is the sign and representation, the icon of God’s love for the world, love that feeds and sustains real life, not just existence.

Oh, that’s hard for us to believe, I know. Too often, we too, bustle about and want things NOW, and we miss the blessings laid before us. God’s Son becomes human flesh and lives alongside us to remind us of how we all are created in the likeness of God. When we choose to abide in Jesus and invite him to abide in us, we change just like that into who God has called us to be: truly one. Truly alive. Truly human.



The miracle of God’s love is bound up in the ordinary. We offer up bread and wine and water, ordinary stuff from the Earth, formed and shaped by human hands, and God uses that ordinary stuff to remind us that we ARE the body of Christ in the world. That we are not separate doubting minds, but each one of us is part of a community of disciples gathered together by the love Christ himself embodies in the world.

Jesus, the Holy One of God, who was and is and ever shall be, stands before us in every moment, even when we are scared or anxious or joyful, asking to be allowed in, to feed us in a way that sustains us. To see that all we have that really lasts is made not of flour or rice or grape, but of the wondrous, self-giving love revealed to us throughout creation. Jesus is calling us to the table not just so that we can be fed but so that we can love and know that we are loved ourselves and then take that out in the world and LIVE it where it is so desperately needed. This love is what brings life to the world-- a true banquet spread before us in the wilderness.

All that we need is here. Let us taste, and not just see, but believe and know and become. There is wonder all around. And it starts with being fed by love.

Amen.


Preached at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville, MO, at the 505 on August 25, and at 8:00 and 10:15 am on August 26, 2018.



Readings:
1 Kings 8:[1, 6, 10-11], 22-30, 41-43
Psalm 84
Ephesians 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

References:
1) Barbara Brown Taylor, "Bread of Angels," in Bread of Angels, pp. 6-11. This sermon was a godsend to helping me reorganize my thoughts as I tried to bring the sermons of the last few weeks together.

Illustrations:
1) Medieval painting of Israelites gathering manna falling from heaven. Check out the freakishly disproportionate fingers pointing toward heaven.
2) Secretions from plant lice on a tamarisk tree, from http://flora.org.il/books/plant-stories-2/chapter-e/useful_plants_e7/.
3) Bee pollinating a Rose of Sharon flower in our backyard.
4) Communion bread baked by my dear friend Pamela Dolan for my and my friends Andrew and Maria's ordination to the priesthood on Jun 29, 2017.

Prayer 2038: Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost


With joy, we come before your altars, O God
and lift our voices in song and praise
for your saving love!
Bread of Life, you offer yourself to us
for the life of the world:
strengthen us in wisdom
to abide in you, and you in us, Blessed Jesus.
There is no place we find ourselves
that you are not our companion and shepherd, Lord:
for God so loved the world
and all of us within it
that we are given your Son in reconciliation and love.
By your grace, redeem us, O Savior,
and unify us to serve the cause of love always.
Merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
purify us and consecrate us, we humbly pray,
and place the hand of blessing
over all whose hope is in You.

Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Prayer 2037


Holy One, we sing out our praise:
You are our God,
our Stronghold and our Shield.
May our prayers rise to You, O Lord,
like incense carried on the breezes at dawn.

All that we have and all that we are is yours:
may we be strengthened in grace and loving kindness,
that our lives may be a testament to your love,
O Lover of Our Souls.

Create in us clean hearts, Blessed Jesus:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
sanctify our intentions
that our ways may be just
and our hearts be generous in all we do.
Shine the light of your countenance upon us,
Most Merciful One,
and grant the comfort of your mercy
to all those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Prayer 2036


Eternal, Almighty, Merciful God,
we lift our hands to you in gratitude
and lay our hearts before You.

Turn to us and forgive us our sins,
O God of Grace,
and help us put away our willful ways,
our acquiescence to callousness,
our failure to walk in each other's shoes.
Lord, give us open hearts:
when strangers approach us for help,
let us see that You are coming to us, Lord Christ,
and respond in love and compassion.
Renew a right spirit within us,
that we may follow in the Way of Jesus
carrying a banner of healing and reconciliation.

Loving One,
send out your Spirit to bless and inspire us,
and guide us in our journey to your truth.
Place all who call upon You
within the broad expanse of your mercy, O Lord,
and bend tenderly over those we now name.

Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Prayer 2035: Inspired by Psalm 131


In the peace and quiet of a soul at rest,
let me make my prayer to You,
O Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.

As I awaken
and open my eyes to receive morning's light,
may I also awaken my spirit
and open my heart to receive your love, O God,
My Strength and My Shield.
Set my feet upon the path of justice, integrity, and peace,
O Radiant Spirit of Wisdom:
let me walk humbly and reverently
upon this good Earth you have hallowed, O Lord.
When I am troubled,
may I sigh and turn into your shoulder,
knowing I am your precious child, O Savior,
safe upon your breast,
soothed within your tender embrace,
enveloped within a mother's protection and care.

Merciful One,
guide and direct me by your abundant grace,
that I may serve the cause of love today
as a witness to the reconciling power of Christ.
Give respite and ease
to all who are troubled in body, mind, or spirit,
O Holy One,
and extend the shade of your blessing
over all who turn to You.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Prayer 2034: inspired by John 6:1-15


Creating One,
Earth-maker, Redeemer, Sanctifier,
we rise from our rest to breathe in your peace.

May we seek to serve You, Lord Christ,
in humility and hope,
in trust and faithfulness.
Gather us around you, O Shepherd:
may we hear your voice of blessing
and offer you our all.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
bless us and break us open
to be filled with new life and wisdom,
that we may testify to your lovingkindness and healing,
Blessed Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer,
Source of Life and Light,
you call us into communion with you and each other:
dwell within us,
that we may be your hands in the world.

Spirit of the Living God,
consecrate us and bless us this day,
and grant your comfort and protection to all for whom we pray.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Prayer, day 2033: Inspired by Psalm 121


(Inspired by Psalm 121)
Let me sit in silence

and abide with You, my Savior.

O God, I lift my eyes to You,

for You are my heart and my help.
I lay upon my bed at night knowing You watch over me

and keep me safe,
and I am at peace.
You hear my cries, and know my fears:

your hand rests upon my head
to bless and protect me.
Evil cannot enfold me,

for I rest in the embrace of the Almighty,
whose love never sleeps or turns away.
The maker of heaven and earth loves me

and tenderly cares for me:
who can do me harm?
God watches over me in all my journeys:

God sets my feet firmly upon the way of love and compassion.
The God of Peace calls me

to the path of righteousness,
whose foundation is justice and equality.
The heat of anger and fear may beat down upon me,

but my God shades me and shields me,
and I am at peace.
Let me raise up the needs of your children,

my kindred souls,
who put their trust in You.

Amen.
575

Monday, August 20, 2018

Prayer, day 2032


O God, You have given us our breath:
it is right that we use it to sing
and glorify your ever-present Love.
May our thankfulness to You resound
with each beat of our hearts.

You are the center of our being:
may we make our hearts a fit dwelling place for your Spirit.
You have called us to truly love one another:
may we shrug off the coils of envy and resentment that choke us.

May we unlearn all that anger has taught us,
that hope and generosity may take root in our souls.
May your peace calm all our fears,
as rain is soaked up by a dry and thirsty land.
May we turn our eyes from the mountains and valleys in our path
to the glorious light of your mercy and truth.

O Shepherd, protect us from the wolves that prowl among us:
may we hear, know, and trust your promises.

Now, O Eternal One,
accept the prayers of your people,
for each need which has been offered in love.

Amen.
550

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Love in Flesh and Blood: Sermon for Proper 15B


I grew up in the so-called “Bible Belt,” in churches that did not observe formal liturgy, in places that never spoke of the word “sacrament” or pondered what that word might mean. Yet, the first time I took part in an Episcopal liturgy when I was 12 years old, I felt an astonishing thing come over me. 

At one level, I had no idea what was happening. Instead of sitting still, listening to a 40 minute sermon followed by a twenty minute altar call, there was all this movement—what the late great comedian and Episcopalian Robin Williams called “pew aerobics.” Up, down. Stand, sit, kneel. Genuflecting. Bowing. Crossing yourself. Juggling a service leaflet and a prayer book and a hymnal—and, this being Oklahoma— a Bible.

But it was at the start of the Holy Communion part of the service that I was absolutely broken open, heart, body, and soul. It was there that I truly felt to be a part of the great body of the Church, and felt received and accepted as I was, with all my faults. I saw how the practice of communion empowered the church, with each and every one of us as a full minister of it, to offer ourselves and all the world’s prayers before God. It left me reeling and rejoicing, all at the same time.

Jesus’s words today can leave us reeling, too. Jesus reminds us that he is the living bread sent by the living Father, and that by taking Jesus into our physical bodies we are made one with him. That promise resounds for us two thousand years later and asks us to take it seriously. And that’s hard for us. The gospel is so radical and life-changing that we often can’t help but try to tame it a little—or a lot. We try to domesticate it, water it down, and therefore place it under our control. But that’s exactly what Jesus is pushing back against in our gospel today. His words call us to renew our understanding of how earth-shaking this act of communion and thanksgiving really is.

For weeks now, Jesus has declared that he is the bread of life, and the crowd asked him for this bread, always. And we DO have it always, in the Eucharist. In our faith that lives and breathes through us, when we let it. We have it always, when we open our hearts to the presence of Christ within us, both as individuals and as a parish and in the world at large.


Count how many times the word “life” or some form of it appears in this reading. We are talking about matters of life and death here—literally. Perhaps a question we can ask ourselves is this: are we really living, or are we just existing? Are we opening ourselves to the blessings and wonders of God’s gifts to us, and then seeking to reflect that joy and hope and light into the world?

There are often times that we get so overwhelmed that we just drift along, reacting rather than being mindful. And who can blame us? There seems to be a constant tattoo of bad news—illnesses, crises, struggles to put food on the table, struggles to find time to spend with those we love, political turmoil, natural disasters—the list goes on and on. Yet it is at moments such as these that we sometimes have to be shaken out of our cycle of anxiety, take a deep breath, and remember that we are not in this alone.

Look again at this passage. Jesus PROMISES us full, rich, abundant life in him—true and real communion with him and in him. That communion with Jesus also draws us into a precious communion with each other. Such devotion Jesus offers us can be overwhelming.

Jesus is asking us to have faith enough to let ourselves be wide open to his grace, light and truth.
To have faith in the Way of Jesus, a way that is governed by a wisdom that goes against the cynicism and miserly fears that attempt to dominate us.
To be wide open to being fed with the very substance of love.
Jesus is asking to be welcomed into our inmost beings, and to recognize our oneness with the divine love that is at the beating heart of the spiritual life-- of life itself.

If we take that seriously, of course it shocks us. 

Jesus’s words this week are meant to shock his listeners. When he talks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, it probably makes most of us uncomfortable, and rightfully so. But even in our discomfort, we also need to see that Jesus is stating as forcefully as he can that he will feed us with his very self, seeking to be alongside us and within us always. And that’s why, for many of us, Eucharist is such a central part of our worship together each week. Yet hopefully it never becomes for us something commonplace, something expected, something routine. I personally hope to never take this for granted.

I remember the first time I listened to the Eucharistic prayer in an Episcopal church, and was invited to kneel alongside people who were largely strangers to me and raise my hands to receive this miraculous sacrament. Something electric went through me, and I have never been the same since. Even though it is years later, I can still see the faces of those around me as together we received the Body and Blood of Jesus. Each time we gather around this altar, we are joined together, and not just within this service or within this building, but across time and distance. 

My father was not a church-going man, and hardly ever took communion that I can recall, yet in his last days, a priest from one of the churches I attended in Tulsa came to minister to my dad, assuring him of God’s love and offering him and all of us in the room communion. It gave him a sense of peace which I had seldom seen within him. I am convinced that every time we share in communion, he is there alongside me, and all those we love and see no more are gathered with us too. This altar stretches through time and space as we reaffirm that we all share in the heavenly banquet.


Sharing in the Eucharist together reminds us that eternity is not something trapped in the future but is now. If “Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again”… if Jesus “was, and is, and shall be, world without end, amen”… then we participate in Christ’s life right now when we gather together in worship and singing and praise (as was discussed in our reading from Ephesians), and certainly when we eat of Christ’s body and drink of his blood. We are then “in Christ, and he in us.” 

And isn’t that what the Christian life is all about? To be transformed and transform ourselves and others; to be healed and to heal ourselves and others; to be fed and to feed ourselves and others. If we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we aren’t just waiting around for God to fix us or fix our society or fix our world. We are part of the life of God. Can we have faith enough to turn that around, and let God be a part of our lives, in the ways that really matter?

This is sacrament: a making holy of ourselves regardless of place, rank or time. In our gospel passage Jesus promises us this gift as part of his living ministry. We are given this gift for our benefit, and for the benefit and service of the entire world—no exceptions.

And while sacraments are all around us, and we live in what Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple called “a sacramental universe,” this sacrament of communion, along with the sacrament of baptism, melts away our walls and defenses, uniting us as one Body even outside the walls of this parish church. It reminds us that we are not just individuals, but we are members of the Body of Christ, and charges us to be Jesus’s hands, eyes, and heart in the world.

It’s an incredible thing. “This is my Body, given for you” has a multiplicity of meaning and seems foolish when we hear it. Yet through this statement, we reach up with hopeful hands and we accept that gift of Christ’s very body for us. We are also made part of that Body, and are thus called to sacrifice and service, ourselves. This sacrifice is not just done for us, but is done by us, and with us, and in us, and throughout the world. We all are empowered as ministers through this sharing and being willing to share.

It also means that, as Christ lives within us, sustaining us both body and soul, so we must be about the very real work of sustaining others. Living as Christ’s Body in the world calls us to hold nothing back, but to offer of ourselves in response to very real hunger we encounter in the world.

Here, around this altar, we meet a God who loves us enough to be one OF us. Jesus holds nothing back from us, but becomes one WITH us in spirit but also in our very bodies, absorbed into our very cells and sinews and bones. In defiance of our failures and shortcomings, because Jesus is always there with us, we become love in our bones; we are anchored within the eternal life and love of God, no matter where we are at that moment—in happiness or sorrow, in comfort or in pain, in joy or mourning, in peace or in turmoil.

In all times and in all places, may we trust in your promises, Beloved Savior, and remember that we are one with you, and you with us.

Amen.


Preached at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville, August 18 at the 505, and on August 19 at 8:00 and 10:15 am.

Readings:
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

Images:
1) Joey Velasco (1967-2010), Filipino, Hapag ng Pag-asa (Table of Hope)
2) from wiirocku.tumblr.com
3) detail from an early depiction of the Heavenly Banquet

Prayer 2031: Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost


Creating God,
we gather to sing your praises
with the chorus of angels and saints
as we join hands and hearts around your altar.
In awe and wonder, Almighty One,
we seek your Wisdom to guide and direct us
as we serve You and each other.
Nourished by Christ's Body and Blood,
may we embody his healing love and grace
that we may be in Christ and Christ in us always.

By the power of the Holy Spirit,
bless us and purify our wills to serve only You,
O God, the Source of Life and Truth,
and grant your peace to those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Prayer 2030


Most Merciful God,
we lift our grateful hearts to You,
and meditate upon your protecting hand
that has shielded us through the night
and guides us through the day.

Help us to walk in the Way of Jesus,
deepening our search for wisdom and truth,
reaching out with hands of love
in the work of reconciliation and healing.
Give us courage, Lord,
to embrace the unfamiliar paths we encounter,
knowing that you are ever with us, come what may.
Through your grace, O Savior,
may we make our hearts a worthy dwelling for you,
that we may blaze forth with your healing love
in all we do this day.

Shepherd of Our Souls,
gather within your embrace
all who are disquieted in body, mind, or spirit:
comfort those in pain, grief, or anxiety, we pray.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
bless and keep us this day,
and give your angels charge over those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Prayer, day 2029: Inspired by Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


O Lord,
you remind us that there is a time for everything:
let today be a time to love and a time for peace.
Let today be a time
to heal hurts of the body and hurts of the heart,
to mend what has been broken.
Let today be a time
to embrace our fellowship with You and with each other,
to build up Your Beloved Community.
Let today be a time
to speak out for justice,
to scatter the stones of ill-will
and plant compassion in their place.
Let today be a time
to keep watch with those who work or wait or mourn,
with those whose times are in Your hand.

Amen.
578, 1998

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Prayer 2028: For the New School Year


Holy One,
Source of All Wisdom,
guard and protect us as we begin a new year.
Give us a thirst for knowledge,
and the will to use it for good,
and for the good of our communities.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for schools:
for the teachers and staff who guide and care for students,
who feed them and tend to their minds and their spirits,
who encourage them to curiosity and deeper understanding,
and inspire them to the fulfillment of their dreams.
May we honor and support them
in our prayers and in our actions at all times.

We give you thanks for students, O God:
may we see each one as beloved and precious;
may we care for them as our own;
may we help them believe in themselves.
May we inspire within them self-discipline,
compassion, integrity, service,
initiative, creativity, and responsibility.
May we help them have the willingness to begin
 the courage to evaluate and learn from error,
and the strength to persevere in adversity.

God of Mercy and Truth,
envelop us in your grace,
strengthen us in hope and faith,
and pour out your blessing and peace
upon all for whom we pray.

Amen.